Everything depends on how Cyprus plays its energy cards right now, says Roys Poyiadjis, a New York entrepreneur and financier with strong ties to his homeland.

It's not just economic links that have expats like Poyiadjis on tenterhooks over recent oil and gas developments there - it's an emotional connection, a sense of national vulnerability honed by years of strained relations with Turkey and, more recently, fallout from Greece's economic crisis.

Roys Poyiadjis was born in Famagusta, Cyprus, and forced into a refugee camp in his own country after the Turkish invasion in 1974. He later served for two years in the Cyprus armed forces and is eager to see his nation on solid and sovereign economic ground. That's one reason he and many of his countrymen have a watchful eye on recent hydrocarbon developments in the region. In February, Cyprus formally invited oil and gas companies to apply for Authorization for Hydrocarbons Exploration within the nation's exclusive economic zone (EEZ), representing 12 potentially lucrative blocks.

Under U.N. conventions, an exclusive economic zone gives a state exclusive mineral rights in its declared waters up to 200 nautical miles from its coastline. For Cyprus, this delineation is part of a concerted effort to secure its share of offshore oil and gas discoveries made in the region in the past two years. Those discoveries include as much as 8 Tcf. of gas off Cyprus' southern coast discovered by Noble Energy Inc. (NBL), which holds the license to drill in Block 12 of the EEZ.

In fact, when Noble Energy was recently honored by the Cyprus U.S. Chamber of Commerce in New York for its Mediterranean discoveries, Roys Poyiadjis and his wife Donna were right there to celebrate.

Cyprus has both opportunity and leverage right now, adds Roys Poyiadjis. It's positioned to become a vital Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) transport hub, and its own reserves could progress it toward energy independence - I think establishing the EEZ and the strong stance the government has taken on Turkish claims and provocation are good signs.

Indeed, exploiting indigenous energy sources and establishing the infrastructure to distribute them domestically could radically alter the nation's economic status, buffering it from external economic pressures and suppressing outward migration of brainpower and money.

At the Energy Gas Storage Summit 2012 in Prague, Cypriot Undersecretary Titos Christofides outlined possibilities for Cyprus to emerge as a storage depot for LNG as EU nations tap into the discoveries in the Mediterranean basin. It's a daunting prospect, as the nation currently has little in the way of energy facilities, infrastructure or institutions.

Maybe it was my years as a refugee or my sense of our nation's precarious and partitioned history, but I want to see Cyprus intelligently exploit its natural gas reserves, says Poyiadjis.

Shayne Heffernan

Shayne Heffernan oversees the management of funds for institutions and high net worth individuals.

Shayne Heffernan holds a Ph.D. in Economics and brings with him over 25 years of trading experience in Asia and hands on experience in Venture Capital, he has been involved in several start ups that have seen market capitalization over $500m and 1 that reached a peak market cap of $15b. He has managed and overseen start ups in Mining, Shipping, Technology and Financial Services.Read the Terms of Service